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Hackney’s Victoria Park played host once more to Field Day: a one-day festival featuring an eclectic mix of up and coming indie bands and established DJs. Impact spent the day in East London to check out some music, laugh at ridiculously-dressed hipsters and drink overpriced beer.
On the back of recent album, Love In Arms, Gabriel Bruce brought his melodramatic, Springsteen-inspired pop to an early set on the Eat Your Own Ears Stage. Taking to the stage on his own, he played an enthralling version of ‘Sleep Paralysis’ before allowing the rest of the band to take their place.
Now, I’d consider myself a music purist, in so much as that I despise backing tracks and believe a band should be capable of playing every note themselves. However, Gabriel Bruce manages to get away with a laptop playing anything requiring a guitar. His pure showmanship and outrageous dance moves ensure that music snobs, such as myself, are surprisingly lenient.
Bruce discards his overcoat as he bursts into ‘Perfect Weather’: definitely not a coincidence. His romantic cheesiness shines through on ‘Zoe’: ‘if you were a clock, you’d have such a lovely face, I’d always be checking the time’. 100% guaranteed to charm any woman. Finishing with standout song, ‘Cars Not Leaving’, his two backing singers treat us to a short dance routine, before departing the stage. A solid start to the day.
The band behind the best album of 2013 so far took a mid-afternoon slot at the Laneway Stage. Every time you see Savages, you don’t think that gig will ever be beaten by anyone, ever. But the next time you see Savages, they blow you away all over again. Their set at Field Day followed this trend.
Savages are the most exciting live band on the circuit at the moment, and on current form, will be for a long, long time. As expected, the set samples almost exclusively from debut album, Silence Yourself, with a rare outing given to debut double A-Side, ‘Flying To Berlin’. Disappointingly, there was no rendition of ‘Fuckers’, a non-album track that has to be seen live to be believed.
Ayse Hassan remains the coolest bassist in modern rock, playing with eyes closed and trademark swagger. Fay Milton’s drumming is outrageously good, and Gemma Thompson’s guitar work is eerier than ever. However, the one member that really stands out today is lead singer Jehnny Beth, who clearly enjoys the great reaction she receives, provoking dancing more intense than anything she has done before.
Regardless of music taste, Savages are one of those bands that just have to be seen. Their set was quite comfortably the best of the day.
After a slightly disappointing Live At Leeds set, I gave the much-hyped King Krule a second chance. This provied to be the correct decision. In Leeds, the sound at Holy Trinity Church was muffled and the band did not look pleased to be there. At Field Day, however, the sound at the Village Mentality Stage was exceptional, the band were pleased to be home and thus, the medium-sized crowed were treated to a good set.
Sadly, King Krule was cut short, meaning that his home crowd did not get to hear first, and best, song, ‘Out Getting Ribs’. Thankfully, this did not ruin what was still a very strong setlist, packed with a range of both new and old songs.
King Krule has progressed from solo troubadour to having a full band, and his songs have followed suit. At times, the band display a kind of free jazz ethic, with songs lengthened considerably and seemingly off the cuff. King Krule are unlikely to be the mind-blowing that success that many have predicted, but there is definitely promise.
Hitting the Shacklewell Arms Stage during the late evening, Toy thrill a disappointingly small crowd with half an hour of urgent Krautrock beats and post-punk intensity.
They open up with two new songs, both of which sound absolutely sublime and point towards an even brighter future. Following this, Toy only have time for three more songs (albeit three of their longest): ‘Colours Running Out’, ‘Left Myself Behind’ and ‘Kopter’. Sounding as tight as ever, the five piece are in fine form and the only disappointment is that they do not play for longer.
With the new songs sounding more anthemic and infectious than anything on the first album, expect Toy to return next year higher on the bill and play to a highly deserved larger crowd.
Lambeth’s Palma Violets are their usual raucous selves and incite the frantic crowd scenes that we have all become so accustomed to. Playing at the Laneway Stage, Palma Violets somehow manage to provoke a stage invasion during just their second song (pictured right), ‘All The Garden Birds’.
They’re a fun band with a few catchy tunes, but saviours of rock n roll they are certainly not. With still no sniff of any new material, you have to fear for their future once the hype begins to die down.
Regardless, the atmosphere itself is enough to kill off any sceptical preconceptions. If you didn’t at least shuffle your shoulders during ‘Best Of Friends’, there is something very, very wrong with you. ‘Rattlesnake Highway’, as per usual, is the best song of the set and really should have been the single ahead of the bland ‘We Found Love’. ‘Brand New Song’ rounds off a fun-filled half hour from the South London lads. Fingers crossed they’re capable of writing a few better songs sometime soon.
John Cooper Clarke
Finishing off the day in style, John Cooper Clarke excites with poetry and pure wit at a very cold Shacklewell Arms Stage, despite having to battle with the hideous noise from the ‘teenage house party’ (it was Django Django) next door.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get such a good reaction for just talking. Clarke has an endless supply of witty anecdotes and a list down to his ankles of famous people he can have a go at. Even Stevie Wonder suffers Clarke’s sharp and indiscriminate tongue.
He recites a few new ones, interspersed with classics such as ‘Hire Car’, ‘Twat’ and ‘Beasley Street’, which is also changed into an alternate version, describing a newly-gentrified Beasley Street, which just so happens to be found in Hackney. Hipster-bashing at its finest.
Clarke rounds off a fantastic day, before Impact had to run to catch the coach back to Nottingham in time for Dot To Dot.
Field Day is a great festival and I highly recommend it, even if everything is perhaps a little overpriced and the ‘no re-entry rule’ is quite frankly ridiculous. Its line-ups continue to improve year upon year, and tickets can be bought now for next year at £30. Buy them now before they shoot up to £55.
…Alex has been listening to Dream Syndicate – The Days Of Wine And Roses…